Max Scherzer is still unbeaten in June, but the Washington Nationals' 31-year-old right-hander received no decision last night, in spite of the fact that he held the San Diego Padres to just one run on four hits in six innings of work in which he struck out 10 and threw 113 pitches.
Scherzer's one run allowed came on a solo home run by Wil Myers in the first. It was the 18th home run he's allowed this season, tied with LA Angels' righty Jered Weaver for the most surrendered by any major league pitcher.
He did, however, leave the outing in line for the win, in spite of the fact that he struggled with his command early and was less than efficient in his first few innings on the mound, throwing 59 pitches in the first three innings.
Scherzer settled in nicely and started striking out hitters at an impressive rate, retiring 13 of 14 batters after a two-out single by Brett Wallace in the second, striking out nine of the fourteen.
He added his 10th K in the sixth, working around a leadoff single for another scoreless frame.
After when ended up a 7-3 loss, Scherzer talked to reporters about a conversation he had with Nats' Pitching Coach Mike Maddux early in the game that helped him straighten things out.
"I was talking to him about 'What were you seeing?'" Scherzer explained.
"I felt like they were really trying to approach me a different way than I saw them and they were really trying to make an adjustment and what type of adjustment I needed to make back at them.
"And just making sure what I saw is what he saw and that we could get on the same page. That was really what I was talking to him about."
Nationals' manager Dusty Baker said the Padres' hitters did a good job of frustrating Scherzer and running up his pitch count.
"He had a couple early innings where he had high pitch counts, I think he had like 60 pitches after three innings, but then he settled down."
"They fouled off some pitches and they had quite a few 3-2 pitches, 3-2 counts," Baker said.
"But you looked up there, we always pay attention [to the pitch count], but it was like, 'Man, that board can't be right,' but it was correct and so he gave us what he had."
"They had a good game plan against me," Scherzer said. "They were able to go out there and grind some ABs out and really play the foul ball game and really seemed to have a number on what I was doing and were able to lay off certain pitches and foul other pitches off, so I tip my hat to them and how they approached me, that was a tough game for me to go out there and continue to make pitches because even though I had success tonight, when you get in those foul ball counts, all of a sudden they're just waiting for that mistake and if you give it to them they hit it.
"Fortunately tonight [Wilson Ramos] and I were on the same page and knew and kind of kept us away from that big mistake to really lead to a big inning and that's what I'm most proud about."
Before the Nationals took a 2-1 lead in the top of the seventh, Scherzer was captured on camera on MASN seemingly pleading his case to stay in the game, but Baker thought he had done enough.
"We had fought back, [Scherzer] gave us all he had and we didn't want to take him any more pitches," Baker said.
Scherzer ended the night still (8-4) on the year, with a 3.29 ERA, a 3.72 FIP, 25 walks (2.22 BB/9), 128 Ks (11.37 K/9) and a .201/.257/.396 line against in 101 ⅓ IP, with a 1.29 ERA, a 2.14 FIP, three walks (0.96 BB/9), 38 Ks (12.21 K/9) and a .162/.186/.293 line against in 28 IP in June.